Sunday, December 4, 2016

Sevivon sof sof sof

Its almost Chanukah!!  I can feel the excitement in the air.  The bakeries are already offering soufganiot for the impatient.




I've already double checked my stash of sevivons for when the time comes to play them.  They are also known as dreidels.  Funny, I took a look at my plan, wooden dreidel and.....

There are so much more fancier dreidels out these days:

Check out Amazon's decorated to the hilt dreidel!

Nowadays there's metalic dreidals...


Yemenite art dreidels...



And dreidels with music and lights...


Dreidel is a competitive game in which all players take turns to spin a top which has letters on different sides.  Coins are put out as wagers.  If it lands on the letter Gimel then the spinner gets all the wagered coins.  If it lands on Nun, then the spinner gets none.  If it lands on Heh, they get half and if it lands on Pey, they have to actually add to the wager.

This game is played by Jewish people during the eight days of  Chanukah.  What kind of dreidel are you getting this Chanukah??

Wednesday, November 9, 2016

Trump Wins!

Well, wouldn't you know it!  Trump wins!

Trump is a lot like Noach in the Bible.  In a society with so much depravity, with so many trying only to look out for themselves, it makes the racist look like righteous people -- at least they care for a group rather than just themselves.  Okay, so we're not included in that group, but....

What's next?  Just like Noach, Trump will build an ark -- a safe haven for those who think like him and protect them from whatever oncoming flood the country created.

Many Black folks will hope that maybe if they behave Trump and his klan will accept them.  And they might - as long as they're useful.  But if they show too much knowledge or get intimate with too much knowledge, then out they go.

On the other hand,...

while this ark is around and people are suffering, etc.there is a shiny door -- a window that will be visible.  If we are concentrated enough we can maybe peer through that window and realize the way out, the solution to the woes of society.

Will Ham get intimate again in the ark?  Will he peer through the precious stone again and gain new knowledge?

The cycle has come again. And this time, what will he do with this knowledge?

Long ago, back in some Biblical time ago, Ham was in the ark and he, the raven, the dog had intercourse in the ark.  As a result the raven gain the power of speech, the dog gained entrance into man's world and Ham was stricken with knowledge in his skin.

According to the Oral Torah, Noach tried to chuck the raven out for what he did in the ark.  The raven -- being able to fly -- saved himself by returning to the ark.  An argument ensued.  Noach charged that the raven is useless and purposeless and should be killed!  The raven replies that Noach is only saying that because he wants access to the raven's wife!  And furthermore, that Noach was prejudiced towards the raven because of what happened in the ark.  The Oral Torah goes on to say that the G-d favored the raven's argument.

So Noach was silenced.

Once he got out of the ark, He thanked G-d.  But the next thing you know, he grows a vineyard, gets drunk and debases himself.  Ham, not wanting a repeat of how society was, came in and "confronted" Noach.  Ham then called his brothers and told them what happened.  For this he was cursed by Noach.

(Personally, I think Noach had it in for all the three who were intimate in the ark.  But the big question is what did he do with the dog?  I think after the vineyard, and since he couldn't get the raven's wife, the dog was next!  but have no proof.)

So, history is coming full circle.  The ark is being built.  Noach is the head at the moment.  What will Ham do to change the course of history?  How will he use this knowledge for the good of the world? For the good of his people?  For his own good?

Personally, the only way I think would work is if he goes the way of Eliezer.  Eliezer was righteous, too.  He served Avraham dutifully.  But eventually, he went -- while alive -- to Gan Eden/Paradise.  What does that mean?  I suspect it means he went back to Africa.

And that is what I think the Black folks in America should be doing.

Wednesday, October 19, 2016

Eliezer and Our Story

One very unsung hero in the bible is Eliezer.  The Servant of Abraham.

He was said to be so holy and on such a high level that he was able to go into paradise while alive.

Eliezer was given the holy task of being the vessel to make the match for Yitzchok/Isaac.  He took it on.  I am almost certain that if it was for anyone else, there would be scores and scores of written words about how the father should have taken the job himself and what an important job it was and how dare he leave it to the servant.  But since it was one of the people that we decide is a "good guy" then no matter what, some will not fault him for anything.



So there goes Eliezer with this big load of responsibility on his back.  Stories have it that he prayed constantly for Hashem to show him who is the right person for this holy marriage.

He stood by the well and waited.  He knew most people had to come around this old time water cooler and perhaps he can get info this way.  As he waited, Rivka (Rebecca) came with her pitcher to gather water for her family.

 Eliezer asks her for some water and she graciously pulls water out of the well not only for him, but for his camel as well.  This was a sure sign that she was giving and kind.  Not only that but that she went the extra mile.  Eliezer then presented her with gifts and explained his purpose.  Rivka brings him home to tell the family what's going on.

The family is an interesting one.  The father, Bethuel, doesn't sound like he's such a nice guy.  In fact, he named his own daughter, Rivka, after a bunch of cows (in Hebrew a group of cows is called a rivka) as a way to insult her.  Bethuel tries to swindle Eliezer for more $$, but Rivka sees her way out and grabs it.  That very day she agrees to go with Eliezer.

Question:  if Bethuel was such a bad guy that he was willing to shame his daughter by calling her a rivka, try and swindle a man who was trying to offer a good marriage to his own daughter, why wouldn't he shame his son as well by calling him Laban which means white.  It was post the time of the flood.  Hopefully, most of the nefillim were washed away and all those who brought on destruction of the world.  But what if a few remained.  what if Laban, due to Bethuel's genes, came out white.  Why would someone call another white if he wasn't the lone white guy?  As if the whiteness singled him out and, this being Bethuel we're talking about, was a way to insult someone.

I'll tell you why.

Because I suspect right now we are in the times of Avraham.  Meaning we are in a place in time where we can do kindness.  We can do hospitality.  We can take care of bodies, things, etc.  But mentally, we may still be in the same mindset as Noach's thinking.  And Noach was basically a racist.  He set the tone. He didn't like the fact that Ham was wise.  that Ham, the dog, and the raven took advantage of an advantageous moment and elevated themselves. So much so that he wanted to chuck the raven the first chance he got.  He cursed Ham the first chance he got.  And luckily the dog escaped unscaithed.

So even though we can give and be kind, mentally we are stuck in Noach's mindset.  I think this is also why the Torah is written in the angle that it is written.

I think it is important to take the halachot (laws) and mitzvot (good deeds, commandments) from the Torah, but then each person must map out and chronicle their own narrative of why.  We must all write our Torah.

For example, the story of the Exodus could be written completely from the direction of the Egyptian.  How Hashem wanted to bring them back to holiness.  Or perhaps they reached the height of wisdom and had no choice but to enter a new world -- the world of humility, which would explain the whole reversal of creation that occurred.

That same story can probably be said again from the angle of another, smaller group of people who lived during that time.

I pray we find Hashem and do good deeds (mitzvot, commandments) and not rely on hisstory -- i.e. the other guy's story, but find our story -- and find the goodness in our story (and not fight another about their story).

Monday, October 17, 2016

The Festival of Sukkot, Black Don't Crack, and Lots of Love

The Festival of Sukkot

We are now celebrating the Festival of Booths, a.k.a Sukkot.  This is when the Jewish people around the world build little huts and dwell in them for a period of time.  This is also the time when we do these interesting rituals of gathering a lulav (palm branch), an etrog (type of lemon), a myrtle branch and a branch from a willow tree.



All four "species" are held together and shaken in every direction while inside the sukkah.
The sukkah must be at least with three walls -- two and a half really.  The roof must be something natural -- either branch leaves, many use palm branch leaves, bamboo sticks, or wood.  And the sky shouldn't be completely covered -- you should be able to see some stars.

If the walls are made of soft materials such as sheets, then it must not bellow in the wind.

Inside the sukkah is filled with beautiful decorations.  It used to be that most of the decorations were various fake fruits dangling down a green leafy vine.  But someone got the bright idea of introducing (recycling?) Christmas decorations and selling it in Israel as Sukkah decorations.  So we have that now, lol.

These four species have many significant meaning.  The one that I want to focus on is the one which teaches that:

  • The etrog represents both tzaddik and scholar, the righteous individual who does good deeds and so has an aroma (doesn't smell "fishy" but in fact smells goodly) and studies Torah diligently and so is edible (nutritious).
  • The lulav represents those who only study Torah but not much good deeds; it is edible, but doesn't have a fragrance.  I.e. someone with wisdom, but not the commandments.
  • The myrtle is the one who had good deeds but doesn't have the capacity to study Torah.
  •  And the willow represents the one who has neither Torah learning nor good deeds.

The Lulav & Black folks

The lulav makes me think of Black folks, Native American Indians, all those "earthy" people who possess wisdom.  There are stories in the Talmud representing the wisdom in Africa.  To read some check out the women story, the story of Africa, and the judge's story.

History also bears out this truth with the introduction of mathematics by the Pheonicians, the universities of Mali, the Egyptians' creation of the pyramids, pyramids found in Sudan, the Dagon people and their knowledge of astrology.  The list goes on and on.

They have the wisdom.  But many do not have the commandments.  I remember riding in my car once and there was a lady, Black American, who was waiting for the red light.  But she wasn't waiting to cross the street.  When the light turned red, she went from car to car asking for charity.

I called her over and gave her whatever I had on the dashboard.  She looked surprise and I asked her what was so surprising.  She answer," Most times Black folks don't give me charity."

I was kind of crushed.  I do remember walking with friends and if we saw a poor on the street they would make comments like, "why give him money?  He'll just spend it on booze."  And with that the thought of giving charity was dismissed.

And with the constant propaganda at work by mainstream media, the riff between black folks is only increasing.

Being influenced by the depravity that is around them, many black communities have to deal with lots of theft, baby mama drama, murder, etc.

These commandments are pleasant.  They anchors a person to this world.  They tell/remind us how to handle property, how to deal with other people, honor one's mother and father, do not steal, do not murder,  It anchors us to present world -- our world.

Black folks are brilliant and their wisdom precedes them.  However, something didn't anchor them to the world and they succumbed when they encountered the "spirit of folly" -- the evil one -- the storm wind.  Evil ran circles around them because evil is not logical.  It attempts to make itself seem logical, but if you try to understand it, you'd simply go crazy.

Black Don't Crack

All these things come to mind and I feel crushed.  Why are all the goodly people in such lowly positions?  Why do innocent countries get taken by wicked European countries and left in forever civil wars while the wicked take over the resources and take over the education process thereby ruining the next generation?  Why can't African-Americans come together and hold steadily and strong against the storm winds?

"That which Wisdom made a crown for her head, Humility made a heel for her sandal"

The Wisdom alone is not enough to fight this evil.

The height of wisdom is only the beginning of humility, of being humble.

Although it seems incredible to think that the humble one can be more powerful than the wise one, it is true!

What is so special about the humble one?  He goes on his path.  He does what he knows and doesn't sway neither to the right nor to the left.  He is consistent and continuous.  We have listened to the storm wind.  It constantly tells us how bad we are and tries to back it up with history, science, whatever else would make a good tool. It doesn't matter of one contradicts the other.  As long as at the present it is in a constant state of trying to get into our heads.

Haters have certain weapons that they use against us:

  • Lies
  • Distractions

These weapons can be easily defeated by truth (and therefore by wisdom).  But the problem is the consistency of the message.  We are bombarded daily with lies and distractions and propaganda telling us we should be thugs, we are thugs, we are not smart, and so on.  With the humble person, neither of these tools work.  The humble person only does what he knows.  He's not searching and so won't find the distractions.

Black folks tend to be truthful, keeping it real.  This could be why we don't see a lie coming? (Of course, it doesn't mean black folks never lie.  They would lie if they wanted to save face, etc.)
But with all the constant effort of haters trying to lie, trying to distract, trying to take over, trying to destroy, etc.  They are zooming themselves farther and farther from real time (or at least our time), making us and them look farther and farther apart.

Like totally different time zones!



As they speed away in their destructive direction, I suppose they see time very differently than we do.  And we see it differently than they do.  At the rate they're going - and as we look at life through their lens, black ain't neva gon crack! lol

This is all good and well, but the other problem that they are destroying the world as they move and that needs to stop.  We must stop it.

We must stop it.

Conclusion

So what could possibly have gotten us into this mess?  We have wisdom, but wisdom and truth can't fight crazy.  So how do we get out from under their crazy and evil oppression?  With wisdom and with good deeds/commandments from humble, Torah true teachers/teachings.  When can this happen?  Now!

The sukkah represents the world around us. We don't want the walls of our world, our house being swayed by the storm wind.  The roof something natural like the sky and we can see the stars.  We shake all the species and then draw their energy toward us in all the directions.  As we draw them toward us -- like a receptive woman, let us be humble with the knowledge that we gain from this and go in Gd's guiding voice.

I got lots of love for you all and am rooting for you!!  (for the sake of goodness, for the sake of humanity.)

Post script:  I don't know if it has to be good deeds that stem from Torah itself.  Torah is very baseline.  But perhaps even African Spirituality will have good deeds -- like libation,  festive dancing, etc.  Things that will anchor the individual to a time and place and thereby anchoring a person to the world.